‘It made me proud to be a woman in soccer’

Redmond High girls gain inspiration from USA World Cup champions.

Redmond High’s Reece Wharton and Sarah Thomas kept their eyes glued to the Women’s World Cup tournament, and the Mustang captains were ecstatic that the United States brought home its second consecutive championship trophy.

“It made me proud to be a woman in soccer and it made me proud to just be an American,” said Wharton, following the first day of the girls Jr. Stangs Soccer Camp on July 16.

Added Thomas: “It makes me really wanna work hard to be the best player I can be, seeing how far they’ve made it. Some of them didn’t have the best avenue towards the game, but they still fought through it and got better and improved and got to the world stage.”

Last season, the Mustangs finished 9-4-4 overall in 4A play and qualified for state after notching second place in both the KingCo and Wes-King District tournaments.

They got into the high-school soccer mindset along with their teammates and coaches while leading the way at the annual three-day camp for girls ages 6-12.

Thomas, a junior goalkeeper, feels that players need to enjoy the sport if they’re going to improve their skills and make an impact on the pitch. Having fun with friends while whipping solid passes and shots and making key saves are part of the game plan as well.

Wharton, a senior center back, said that if players work hard at their craft, the intense training will be worth their while when they receive positive results.

Camp is a place where it all begins for future Stangs and it solidifies the veterans’ appreciation for the sport.

“What makes it really fun is just bringing all of us who love soccer together,” Thomas said. “The little kids, they may not have played soccer before, but they always come back wanting to play soccer, they always love it. It’s really nice to see the community grow around soccer.”

Wharton, who will begin her third year on varsity, likes the family atmosphere on the Mustangs’ side of the field. No matter what grades the players reside in, everyone hangs out with each other.

“In a team, you gotta work together, otherwise no one’s gonna be successful,” said Wharton, who referenced the USA women’s squad as an inspiration: “One of the things I took away, they call themselves the 23 best friends and that’s kind of what I feel when I’m here.”

Keeping the USA team in mind, Wharton proclaimed her fandom for Julie Ertz, praising her play in the air and her field vision. She also gave nods to Rose Lavelle and some of the players who came off the bench to help the USA reach the victors’ stage.

“Ali Krieger had to come in at about the half (of the final) and she just killed it, even though she hadn’t played many minutes,” Wharton said.

For Thomas, she intently watched fellow goalkeeper and USA star Alyssa Naeher.

“I’m just really happy for her, ‘cause she had a lot of scrutiny coming in, like replacing Hope Solo. It’s really hard to replace Hope Solo, but she really did a great job and didn’t let the critics affect her. I’m really glad she got that PK save, ‘cause that was really her big moment (semifinals against England),” Thomas said.

On the sport in general, Thomas is thrilled to see the women’s game continue to grow and improve and kick the television viewers’ count up a mammoth amount of notches during the tournament.